ATLANTA - When Georgia Tech opens up the season against Jacksonville State on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, it will mark the beginning of a crossroads for Zach Krish.
It won't be the first time the Yellow Jackets' 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman has faced such a crossroads.
The fact is, Krish never expected to don a football uniform again after graduating from South Gwinnett in the spring of 2006.
"Towards the beginning of my senior season in high school, I decided I was just going to go to college and not play football," Krish said. "Through the summer and when I first showed up (at Tech), ... I was talking to people on campus and they were asking me if I played football. I said no.
"Then a couple of people told me there were walk-on tryouts the following week. So I ended up going just to see what was going on. It was almost like a fate-type thing. I just walked in to see what was going on, and they took me. I showed up to practice and ended up liking it and staying with it."
Krish's story is not exactly a "Rudy" situation like that of former Notre Dame walk-on Daniel Ruettiger, who was immortalized on the silver screen.
For one thing, Krish was far bigger than that "Five-foot-nothing, a hundred and nothing" Ruettiger, to quote a line from the film.
For another, Ruettiger dressed out with his team in just one game - coincidentally, against Georgia Tech - in 1975.
By contrast, Krish has not only traveled with the Yellow Jackets to every bowl game they've played in and to several away games since he's been at Tech, he saw action in four games during last year's 9-4 season, including a nationally televised win over Miami.
But like "Rudy," Krish made a major impression on his coaches with his hard work.
First, he convinced former Tech coach Chan Gailey and his staff to give him a chance to join the team as a walk-on.
Then, following this past spring practice, he was given the ultimate award for any walk-on by becoming one of two offensive linemen - along with center Sean Bedford - to be awarded a full scholarship by current coach Paul Johnson.
"I really appreciated that he stuck it out all this time," Johnson said of Krish. "We were in a situation with our scholarship limit where we needed to balance out our classes, and he's worked hard."
But Krish's scholarship will likely be more than ceremonial.
Currently listed as co-No. 2 on Tech's depth chart at a guard position, there is a good chance Krish will receive considerably more significant playing time this season.
It's a lot further than he ever thought he would come when he first got the idea to try out for the team.
"I'm looking forward to it," Krish said of the potential for more playing time. "I'm hopefully going to see some action, and I feel ready for it.
"We have a meeting (with the coaching staff) after every spring practice. I went in and I think we both kind of brought up (the possibility of a scholarship) at the same time. I'd never really mentioned it before, but it was something I was working toward. ... I felt like it was a goal, but I definitely would've played without it."
While this season should be special for Krish because of rewards for his hard work, it will also be special because this time, it looks like it will be his last.
Though as a redshirt junior he still has one year of eligibility left, he is set to graduate from Tech in May with a degree in civil engineering and hopes to enroll in law school next year.
While one of his possible destinations has just started a football team - Georgia State, which he is considering along with Emory - he says the chances of him using that final year of eligibility is slim.
"I've heard from Georgia State that they're not going to be taking anyone with less than two years of eligibility," Krish said. "So, I'm pretty much looking at this to be my last year. I'm trying to make this the best it could be. It's kind of the same way in high school. You want to go out with a bang."
SideBar: The Krish File
Who: Zach Krish
School: Georgia Tech
Class: Redshirt junior
· Was a two-year letter winner at South Gwinnett and a Scholar-Athlete selection by the Gwinnett Touchdown Club
· Saw action in four games last season
· Awarded a scholarship by coach Paul Johnson after spring practice following two seasons and a redshirt season as a walk-on
· Is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in civil engineering